Weekend Overview: Is anyone else really looking forward to the Derby? I know I am. The Derby always holds a certain mystique but for me it always looks so much better when it's filled with top class horses. I Want Revenge, Quality Road, Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile and the rest of the cast are set to make this Derby a top notch affair. I Want Revenge was the most eye catching Derby prep winner of the week but the solid Musket Man deserves his due. Musket Man has only lost once in six starts and he was very much the best in the Illinois Derby. Connections should be very proud of their humble little horse. This weekend was about much more than Derby preps. Budding stars Seventh Street and It's a Bird put in nice performances at Oaklawn while Rachel Alexandra continues to look impervious. It's early yet but Rachel Alexandra could easily prove to be of the same class as Ashado, Silverbulletday and Rags to Riches. Racing fans are being spoiled by some of the quality currently on display. Stardom Bound's run of consecutive G-1 wins finally came to an end in the Ashland. Virtually everyone saw it coming except for the bettors who still slammed her at the windows. Old habits die hard. Rail Trip stayed undefeated despite the seeming best efforts of his jockey to get him caught and Dixie Chatter finally looks to be putting things together for Mandella. All in all a very entertaining weekend of racing.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Pioneerof The Nile and Kodiak Kowboy made the most of their G-1 opportunities and moved to the heads of their divisions. It's a Bird made a good case for being one of the best real dirt routers in the nation and Rachel Alexandra continued to close the gap on Stardom Bound at the top of the Three Year Old Female division. Several horses swapped places in the standings but there were no real shockers. Perhaps the biggest shock is that a sprinter like Capt. Candyman Can is legitimately among the best sprinters out there. The older sprinters look a bit poor this year.
Power Rankings: There were a lot fewer changes to the "who's better" list than there were to the who's done more" list discussed above. Other than Kodiak Kowboy who made a massive move from obscurity the best horses pretty much remained the best horses in all the divisions. I'm interested to see if Seventh Street can be a real challenge for One Caroline in the eastern segment of the older females division. The Power Rankings still have her coming up short but we'll have to see another race or two.
Performance/Race of the Week: I usually highlight the Performance of the Week and the Race of the Week separately but this week one race fits both categories. I Want Revenge's missed break and last to first rally was both the most impressive and most exciting race of the weekend. It's very rare to see a race like that from a young horse. He was taken completely out of his game when he missed the break and as a consequence he had to fight traffic all the way around. His final quarter was as explosive as any you'll see this spring. A very difficult race to watch sitting down.
Flop of the Week: Jose Valdivia Jr. is lucky that the connections of Rail Trip opted for just an ear bashing instead of feeding him to Mike Tyson. For those who haven't seen the Santana Mile you should make an effort to check out the race. Rail Trip was beating the field with ridiculous ease. So much so that Valdivia all but pulled him up with a furlong to run. The trouble was that Dakota Phone had not given up the chase and with Rail Trip shortening up to a jog the margin was getting thinner by the stride. Had it not been for the wire Rail Trip would have been beaten because Valdivia never did see or hear Dakota Phone and consequently never asked Rail Trip to speed up at all. The margin was a nose when it should have been 8 lengths. I can't find imagine anyone having a worse weekend while riding a winner.
Tip o'the Cap: The vets who examined and scratched The Pamplemousse from the Santa Anita Derby deserve some credit for preventing a horse from suffering something unfortunate or catastrophic. It made the race less dramatic but at least racing avoided the wrong kind of drama on national television.
KC Handicapping: It was a rough week for my analysis. Imperial Council turned out to be a fraud, The Pamplemousse scratched and is now on the bench for a while and Dixie Chatter turned out to be great value at the windows compared to Madeo. That's the disadvantage of not playing in real time. I was thrilled for Hooh Why and really should have selected her for the Ashland. I rode her through both loses this year and wasn't on board for her win. I was happy to see her win but it hurt a little.
The bright side for me was the public handicapper experiment at Keeneland. I had 9 winners from 29 races and turned a slight profit for the week. That's a pretty rare thing for me at Keeneland. Hopefully I can carry that momentum into week 2. As always you can see my selections on the sidebar and see a breakdown of my results by clicking on the link to the spreadsheet.
Weekly Record: 3(3)-0-0-1 (-$6.40 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 722(391)-125-116-95 (-$125.90 -8.72% ROI)